Summary: Sirius/Harry guardian story; AU; takes places the summer after Harry's third year (post PoA).
Story Notes: Starting From Scratch will contain two scenes of parental corporal punishment (spanking), namely in chapters 1 and 13. Both Sirius and Harry are far from perfect in this story; they will both make mistakes and eventually will learn from them. I approach Sirius' character from both Gary Oldman's portrayal and my own perception of him. Even though Sirius had his moments, I always believed that he would have stepped up to his parental role if he would have had the chance to be Harry's guardian. That said, I hope you will enjoy my portrayal of him :-)
Starting From Scratch
It had been one month and six days at the end of Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts since Sirius Black had nonchalantly danced over the prospect of Harry coming to live with him.
Sirius hadn't risked a glance at Harry after he'd asked the boy but remembered sensing his godson perk up at the words. At the time, Sirius wasn't sure whether or not Harry was horrified or elated, but two weeks later, with Dumbledore's permission, Harry Potter rolled his heavy trunk over the threshold of Sirius's new residence, a rather large cabin—protected and prepared by the headmaster—planted among dozens of thick pine trees in the hills of Edinburgh.
Now, Sirius found his godson's excitement reassuring and comically contagious. He smiled as he felt the nervous tightness in his stomach ebbing away. Sirius knew he and Harry would be very happy here.
But twenty days had passed.
And although Harry and his godfather got along rather well, Sirius often felt increasingly annoyed at the boy's carelessness. True, they were safe among the wards, and Dumbledore had been able to prove Sirus's innocence in front of the Wizengamot. But they were in a new area, the wards hadn't been tested, and Sirius felt that the rambunctious thirteen-year-old needed to be careful about being seen and wandering aimlessly among the grounds.
Sirius wasn't big on rules.
In fact, he hadn't given his godson any—not even a bedtime. Part of him sympathized with Harry's teenaged self. He'd been one too, after all. But a larger part of Sirius felt a spark of fatherly protection for Harry. As much as he loathed succumbing to the monotony of a middle-aged life, he already cared for his godson enough to brush aside the occasional reckless urges that threatened to overcome him.
Only two or three months ago, that would have never happened.
It was around one o'clock in the afternoon on a bleak, blustery Thursday when Sirius returned to the cabin. Much to the man's surprise and confusion, he found the house empty. The silence was so heavy that it pounded in Sirius's ears, thick and almost tangible.
"Where is he?" Sirius muttered outloud to no one in particular before igniting a blazing fire, counting on the crackling whisper of the burning logs to cut through the silence. He could have cared less about the heat.
Sirius had Floo'd to Remus's about an hour and forty minutes ago, giving Harry instructions to stay in the house.
His godson had woken up in an extremely foul mood and had possessed an attitude since he dragged himself to the breakfast table, hair sticking up every which way and his pajama bottoms rumpled and baggy. The pink wrinkles and imprints on his bare stomach spoke of a restless sleep. Sirius couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of him.
"Nice hair," he'd quipped but decided not to test his sarcasm any further as it was still early in the morning. Harry's scowl and pinched eyebrows were accompanied by a blank green stare that he kept aiming towards his godfather for the next half-hour.
Breakfast was quiet, and Harry had wriggled away when Sirius had tried to feel his cheeks for fever. But halfway through his cereal, Harry had straightened up with a sudden idea. He wanted to test out his Firebolt.
Sirius hadn't allowed Harry to go flying since they had come to Edinburgh, as he hadn't had a chance (or received approval from Dumbledore) to survey the surrounding area for muggles and other potential hazards.
It's not that he didn't trust Harry. But if the boy was anything like his father, James—and Sirius was noticing the feisty resemblance more and more—Harry would have a hard time staying within the boundaries once he'd experienced the exhilarating freedom of soaring on his Firebolt.
Breakfast had ended in an annoying argument, with Sirius telling Harry to "quit acting like a five year old," and Harry telling Sirius to "stuff it." Without a word, the boy had pushed his plate away and stomped back up the stairs.
Sirius' face had burned, and he was actually speechless for once as he listened to Harry pad up the wooden steps. During Sirius's childhood, his own parents hadn't really paid much attention to his behavior, good or bad. However, James' parents had kept him accountable, especially after he'd left home and come to live with the Potters. If he'd have spoken like that to James' father, Sirius would have expected the disgusting aftertaste of ivory soap after a good mouth-lathering.
But Sirius had yet to discipline Harry in any way, and the boy had left before Sirius could react. Did parents still wash out smart mouths?
Maybe Harry was only joking. He did that sometimes. But the boy had never told him to stuff it before. And Sirius had to admit...that hurt.
In all honesty, the boy was usually fun to be around and well-behaved, for the most part. However, lately Harry seemed to be testing the waters, and Sirius wasn't sure how to reel him back in.
So far, he'd done nothing.
It was at this moment when Sirius decided to visit his old friend Remus and ask for some advice. After all, Remus Lupin had been Harry's Defense Against the Dark Arts professor this past year. He had more experience with children than Sirius did. Before Sirius left, he knocked on Harry's door and informed his godson that he'd be back in an hour or two.
"You need to stay put," Sirius had informed him after mustering up all his sternness. "And get some more sleep. You're in a horrible mood..."
Harry turned over on his stomach and smashed a pillow over the top of his head.
"Whatever." The grumbling voice was small and muffled among the fluff.
Sirius stared. "What's the matter with you this morning??"
Silence from the bundle of blankets.
"All right, then," Sirius said with a sigh. "I'll be back."
What the bloody hell is wrong with that kid? he thought as he closed Harry's bedroom door and headed downstairs to the Floo.
Remus Lupin sat slumped over his morning newspaper, warming his hands around a mug of strong, fragrant coffee, breaking contact with the heated ceramic every so often to slowly turn the pages of The Daily Prophet. He was perusing an article about the prospect of tightening the security at the wizard bank, Gringott's, when he heard a distant whoosh echo through the sitting room a few doors away.
Lifting the mug once again to sip, Remus looked over the rim at the slightly frazzled figure of his best friend, Sirius Black, as the dark-haired wizard sauntered into the small kitchen.
Ever since Sirius had returned from Azkaban, he'd spent a considerable amount of time with his childhood pal. The two consistently popped in and out of each other's fireplace, knowing an invitation wasn't necessary.
Sirius gave his friend a half-smile and briefly lifted his eyebrows.
"Any good reads this morning?" Sirius stated as he grasped the top of a wooden chair, scraped it back, and sat heavily, dropping his folded hands onto the top of the table.
He stared at his laced fingers thoughtfully for a moment before making a casual effort to lock his eyes with those of Remus.
"Not really, unless you find the paranoia of goblins amusing," Remus chuckled as he surveyed the awkward movements of his friend.
Sirius gave a heavy sigh and shifted a bit in his chair, slumping and crossing his ankles under the table.
"What is it, Padfoot?" Remus inquired gently, recognizing Sirius's silence and lack of humor as a sign that something must be weighing heavily on his friend's chest.
"What?" Sirius glanced up sharply as if he'd been startled out of a daydream. "Oh, it's nothing. Just got into a bit of a tiff with Harry is all." Sirius had gone back to focusing on his restless hands that still lay upon the table.
"Ah," Remus nodded knowingly, "Thirteen is a difficult age. You remember, don't you?" Remus delivered the latter as more of a statement rather than a question.
"I suppose. But I don't recall ever dragging myself about the house for days on end with an attitude like that.
"Like what?" Remus asked, genuinely interested.
Sirius looked up from the table again, but this time he shifted himself out of his slump and leaned forward with furrowed brows, resting on his forearms.
"Harry's a wonderful kid, but he's got a smart mouth. He's always got his defenses up. And he completely disregards his own safety! He's not careful at all. That's what really bothers me…" Sirius continued, shaking his head. "Has he always been like this, or do you think he's just gotten too comfortable with me?"
Remus smiled in a soft, knowing way. "He's a handful, Sirius. Even I ended up scolding him last year about his knack for trouble..."
Tapping his thumbs together, Sirius twisted his mouth in thought. He didn't say anything.
"So what happened after the argument? Who started it, anyway? Remus questioned casually.
Sirius relaxed back into his chair once again. "I don't remember who started it. I don't think he slept very well. But what do you mean, what happened? Sirius asked with a frown.
Remus gave his friend another gentle smile and tried a different approach.
"I assume Harry was a bit rude again. How did you handle it?"
"I…well…didn't, really. He stomped back up to his room and threw himself under the covers before I could say anything," Sirius stated, looking intently at Remus. "But I did tell him to stay put. That he couldn't come along to visit," Sirius quickly continued as he watched Remus's sandy brow rise ever so slightly.
"Did he obey?"
"Well," Sirius said slowly, staring at the table top. "He did, yes. He just...got a few words in before I left."
Remus raised both brows this time. "And you left it at that?"
"I... What?" Sirius glanced up.
Taking a measured sip from his cup, Remus set it down gently, swallowing audibly before proceeding. "Harry's just a boy, Sirius. If he's being disrespectful, he shouldn't get the last word. He knows better than that, I believe..."
Sirius pressed his lips together. He knew he should have spoken to Harry about his behavior. Perhaps punished him. But what could he do? Harry didn't act like this all of the time. And to be honest, Sirius didn't know much about discipline…not really. Of course he remembered being punished as a boy when he stepped too far out of line. James' father had corrected him many times as he had his own son.
But could he really punish his godson? He wanted Harry to like him…and to respect him at the same time. He just wasn't sure how to accomplish that.
"You know," Remus said, startling Sirius out of his thoughts, "there was always one thing that kept me out of trouble and snuffed my attitude for quite some time. You too. And James."
Yes, Sirius knew. He'd had his rear end tanned more than once growing up during the summer hols when he'd stayed with the Potters. He and James both had. And to be honest, as a teenager, the memory and looming threat of that distinct, dull ache in his bum really did help control his temper and cause him to think twice before running into trouble.
And it's not as if Sirius didn't respect James' dad. In fact, Sirius would even admit that he loved him. More than his own father.
"You have a point," Sirius claimed, though he definitely wasn't confident in his ability to dole out a spanking. He had a hard enough time just scolding his godson. "But he's a bit old, isn't he?"
Remus shrugged and lifted an eyebrow as if to say when words fail...
"He needs boundaries, Sirius. He's still young."
"What if I took away his Firebolt for a while?" Sirius suggested. "He can earn it back."
"You could," Remus agreed with a single nod. "Though he doesn't have access to it presently, correct?"
"He can stay up in his room for a while, then."
"He's in his room now... with an attitude, it sounds like."
"He'll hate me," Sirius murmured desolately. He rubbed at his eyebrows with his thumb and forefinger.
"For a while, maybe..."
Sighing and slapping his palm lightly on the table, Sirius' flashed his best friend a drawn and pleading look. "We'll see how it goes."
"He's your godson."
"He certainly is."
Remus wrinkled his own brow as he surveyed the conflicted cloud settling over his friend's dark eyes, "You could always try talking with Harry when you Floo back home. You never know. He's changing and may just need someone to confide in. That helps too, you remember."
"Yes...it does," Sirius agreed, a small smile softening the stormy façade of the man for the first time that morning.
It had been almost forty-five minutes since Sirius had Floo'd back to the comfort of the two-story cabin. And Harry was still nowhere to be found. The man had checked Harry's bedroom, the lavatory, the backyard—everywhere, really.
Sirius feverishly scoured the house for a note of some sort, recalling the agreement they had reached about making sure one always knew where the other ran off to. It was, in a way, the first unofficial "rule", though it was never labeled as such. Harry had been adamant about keeping Sirius close by, it seemed. And to be honest, for Sirius, the feeling was mutual. So why would the boy leave without permission now?
Okay, don't panic, Sirius inwardly advised himself.
But he couldn't seem to repress the icicles of fear forming in his stomach. Although Sirius didn't really want to bother him, he was dangerously close to floo'ing the headmaster
Suddenly he heard the back door to the kitchen creek open and click shut.
Jogging slightly, Sirius reached the entrance to the kitchen to find a windblown Harry, standing stock-still by the pantry. The strings of the boy's light-blue, hooded sweatshirt were strewn over his shoulders, his cheeks rosy.
Sirius followed Harry's eyes as they wandered briefly over to the handle of the broomstick clutched tightly in his pale hand and back to his godfather…a bit warily, Sirius was pleased to note.
Well good, Sirius thought, at least he has a bit of a conscience.
"Er…hey, Sirius," Harry said, and then bit his lip.
Not receiving an answer, the thirteen-year-old sauntered over to the cupboard and quickly returned his Firebolt to where he had obviously retrieved it a couple hours prior. He made his way slowly over to stand in front of his bewildered godfather, still biting his lip, and stood leaning with one palm flat against the table top. He tucked the other into the back pocket of his jeans.
Sirius's face burned again. He wondered if he looked as hurt as he felt but forced himself to remember Remus' words and Harry's actions—his bloody…disobedience. Honestly, his godson had some nerve!
Harry shifted uncomfortably in the silence.
"Was that fun?"
The boy's tongue peeked out for a second, wetting his dry lips. "Look, Sirius, I didn't-"
"Not another word," Sirius interrupted quietly, but firmly, "I don't want to hear it." His face felt like it had been pulled tight by strings.
"But…I mean…just listen a minute…" Harry tried but was cut off once again as Sirius raised a hand to silence him.
"You need to go up to your room."
Harry pressed his lips together and looked at his godfather strangely. Sirius wasn't really sure how to classify a look like that. Anger? Embarrassment? He couldn't tell.
"Harry, go now," Sirius exclaimed when the boy didn't move, the imperious tone sounding unfamiliar in his own voice.
Sirius watched as Harry climbed the stairs, his sweaty hand squeaking along the polished wooden railing. When the shoelace of Harry's trainer disappeared past the top step, Sirius sat down heavily at the kitchen table, his face in his hands.
Merlin's pants, he thought, why now? Remus must be a bloody Seer.
Sirius closed his eyes and sighed. The disappointment and hurt throbbed through his stomach. He face began to flush with anger. And he tried his best to focus on the last emotion, as it sustained his stern demeanor. He'd given Harry instructions not to go flying until he had a chance to check out the area. Yes, he definitely had. What was his godson thinking? Testing the waters again, obviously. Probably to see what sort of reaction he'd get. How could Harry be so foolish? So careless…
As Sirius's thoughts strayed to his godson's well-being, he straightened himself up and toughened his expression.
Taking a deep breath, he stood up and made his way toward the stairs.
Harry lay back on his bed, his head propped up by several feather-stuffed pillows. His folded hands rested lightly on his chest.
The boy sighed and felt his stomach tense a bit.
Harry was overwhelmed with emotions. His head was spinning with them. Sirius was going to hate him now. Why had he been so stupid? He was nothing but a worthless prat.
He'd never seen such a stern, sad expression on his godfather's face.
He's gonna chuck me, Harry thought miserably, but even as he mourned at the possibility, Harry couldn't repress the anger that throbbed through him, making his heart pound. Sirius wanted to get away from me this morning. Harry shook his head slowly against the pillows. Who could blame him, though? I muck everything up.
Harry heard footsteps on the stairs and sat up a bit, narrowing his gaze, trying hard to focus on the angry part of the whirlwind of feelings coursing through his body. It was easier that way.
There was a brief knock at the door, but Harry didn't bother answering, and Sirius didn't bother waiting.
Sirius closed the door behind him, the same look painted on his face, Harry noticed. The look that made the boy's stomach clench painfully and the tips of his fingers feel icy.
He wanted to apologize but didn't know what to say. Didn't know how to explain why he was feeling so confused and irritated.
Harry watched silently as Sirius scooted the chair out from under the desk, swiveled it around to face his godson, and sat stiffly, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.
"We need to get one thing straight, Harry," Sirius began, his voice quiet and solemn. "I am in charge of you for the summer, and that means that you need to do as I say whether you like it or not. I've been lenient with you, and perhaps that's my fault. But you're taking advantage of me-"
Harry could see the man's chest rising and falling rapidly. Out of anger? From his trek up the stairs? He wasn't sure. Harry didn't care, really, not at the moment.
"I love having you here," Sirius continued. "But you need to stop with the cheek...and the attitude. I'm the adult, remember..."
The boy let an amused huff escape as he shook his head once again. Yeah, and adults are all the same, he thought bitterly.
"You didn't even give me a chance to explain about this morning," Harry claimed, exasperated. He was sitting up now, one leg dangling off the edge of the bed.
"Explain what? There was nothing to explain," Sirius retorted simply, the calm draining from his tone. "You disobeyed me when I gave you specific instructions to not fly on your broom until I said it was okay. It was a safety precaution. Why in the world would you do that, Harry?" The hurt had crept into the man's voice again.
Harry swallowed, clenching his teeth against the pain in his stomach. But he just couldn't shove down the boiling anger. He never could.
As far as Harry was concerned, he'd had enough. Why did everyone treat him like he was so fragile? He was one of the best flyers at Hogwarts. Plus, he'd been in danger before…had gotten past Quirrell and retrieved the Sorcerer's Stone when he was eleven. He'd killed a bloody basilisk, for Merlin's sake! But even Professor Lupin had acted the same way last year when he caught Harry out of bed with the Marauder's Map. Funny, no one seemed to care what he did at the Dursleys…when he wasn't locked in his room, that is. No one even came to see him.
"Okay, fine, so I flew on my broom for no good reason," Harry finally croaked, frowning. "Big, bloody deal… I've already been on my Firebolt loads of times. You're the one who bought it for me, and you didn't think I was too much of a baby then. So why now?"
Harry had no idea what he was trying to say.
However he was aware of the glare that flashed through his godfather's eyes almost immediately. And it made him want to shrink back into the pillows.
"Watch your attitude, Harry," Sirius nearly growled. "I mean it."
Harry swallowed again, willing himself to shut up. But the feelings churned again, and he said it anyway.
"Watch my attitude? I don't have a sodding attitude. You do…"
"Oi!" Sirius stiffened in his chair.
Harry dug his fingertips into his jeans. "What?" he demanded. "This isn't an attitude; it's talking—"
"This is not talking."
Harry's face crumpled with annoyance he couldn't seem to bat away. "Yeah, it is… You're the one who barged in here and started pissing all over me—"
"Enough." Sirius' voice had gone strangely quiet and rickety. "I'm not going to sit here and listen to you talk to me like that anymore."
"Then go," Harry ground out, barely getting a swallow down. His stomach ached like Dudley was sitting on it.
"I'm not going anywhere—"
"Get out!" Harry gripped his comforter in both hands. He felt like a madman. What was he doing?
Sirius bolted out of his chair and made to grab his godson's arms, hovering over him. This had gone far enough. Just as he expected, Harry tried to pull away.
But he was unsuccessful.
"Don't shout at me." Sirius emphasized his command with a stern shake. "Now, what is the matter? Why can't you just talk to me—"
"I don't want to talk!" Harry tugged his arms against Sirius' hold, but the man held steady.
"Well you're about five seconds away from getting your arse warmed, so I suppose it won't matter if you talk or not, will it?"
The words had seeped out from nowhere.
Harry stilled for an instant, staring at Sirius with flared nostrils and a crumpling brow line. His godson looked very young—almost infantile—and somewhat confused. But the moment flashed by too quickly and the gleam in Harry's eyes faded, replaced with rage.
He began flailing again. "Just bugger off—"
Sirius was reeling. He'd never felt so disappointed, so…frustrated…at least not for quite some time.
The attempt of using his words was indeed failing.
Remus was right.
But Sirius still felt like he was watching someone else tighten his hands around Harry's arms and pull him off the bed. And he definitely felt like it was someone else's hands that were unfastening Harry's jeans, brushing away the boy's protesting fingers. Stumbling back toward the desk chair, Sirius plopped heavily back on the seat and laid Harry face-down across his knees, not allowing himself to think.
Remembering how this was done, Sirius finally tugged down the boy's loose jeans to the tops of his thighs and peeled back his underpants.
He paused a few seconds, using all the courage he had to ignore Harry's embarrassed and strangled squalling. Sirius took a deep breath before raising his right hand high and smacking Harry across his bared bottom.
He instantly felt his godson stiffen and suck in his breath.
Sirius froze as well. All right. He did it.
Had he actually done it?
Watching the skin turn pink, Sirius waited for a short moment, feeling guilty and fighting the urge to redress Harry's behind and forget this ever happened. He knew that must have stung.
Sirius waited for the inevitable swearing and flailing he figured was about to commence. But it didn't come.
Harry hadn't moved. Instead, he had ducked his head and squeezed a handful of Sirius' trousers in his right hand. He wasn't in shock was he?
I can't do this, the man frantically thought. But suddenly, the events of the day came flooding back into Sirius' memory. Harry wasn't in shock. He was attentive. Sirius had finally gotten his godson's undivided attention. Harry deserved this, and he needed to know that he wasn't going to just get away with something like this.
Sirius was reminding himself of that too.
Praying for some sort of inspiration, Sirius held his breath as he raised his hand again.
He didn't lecture in between smacks. Sirius didn't feel it was a necessary means of getting his point across. And besides, it felt unnatural. But without realizing that he was doing it, Sirius kept count in his head as he continued to wallop the small backside steadily.
Harry hadn't made a single noise since the initial gasp. But after a dozen and a half cracks of his palm against the pink rear end, Sirius finally heard a low sob, or rather felt Harry's body jump with the force of it.
Sirius stopped immediately, his hand splayed and stiff as if he'd just pulled it back from a burning stove. He remembered this as the part where James' father usually doled out a final, hefty five. But as Sirius listened to his godson's soft, wracking sobs and mumbled apologies, he knew he couldn't even deliver one.
He was done.
Sirius grimaced as he quietly pulled Harry's pants and jeans back up. Ignoring the button, he maneuvered his hands underneath Harry's arms, lifting the boy up with him as he stood and worriedly sizing up the snotty, flushed face. But after holding the limp figure at arms-length for several long seconds, he pulled a distraught Harry forward and gathered him in a tight embrace.
After all, it's what James' father always did regardless whether he stood rigid as a pole or sagged into the comfort.
Eventually, Harry's hands trailed upwards, and he clung on to Sirius' shoulder blades tightly. Sirius felt the heat from Harry's damp face buried against his chest as his godson quietly sobbed out the rest of his tears.
Harry continued to apologize brokenly as he hiccoughed into the warm, tear-blotched shirt.
"It's okay. I know you're sorry," Sirius murmured gently as he cradled the boy's head against his chest. "You're okay." He rubbed circles between Harry's shoulder blades to calm him, feeling more confident and protective as each moment passed.
The guilt seemed to have dissolved on its own.
"No, I mean…you-you don't understand…" Harry tried to explain, but was only able to exhale a great whoosh of air as Sirius held him tighter.
"You scared me today, Harry," Sirius words were a bit muffled against the tousled, dark hair. "Do you know what that was like for me when I came back from Remus' and the house was empty? I was so worried. Don't ever do that again."
At these words, Harry lifted his head from his godfather's shoulder and gazed desperately into the man's eyes, searching for what he had once longed to see in Uncle Vernon's but never could.
But he didn't have to search long, because he saw it in Sirius—not just in his eyes but in the gentle way he scratched Harry's back...in the soft lines around his mouth. In everything.
Harry wanted to tell his godfather that he had been afraid. He'd been afraid of returning to the Dursleys and afraid of losing him. And Harry knew that didn't make any sense, but still, that's how he felt.
He wanted to tell Sirius that he didn't know why he risked his life so often, but he wished he could be more thoughtful. Harry wanted to let him know that he had disobeyed because he was so angry at him for leaving him alone for two hours, and he had a hard time controlling that anger sometimes.
Harry also needed to tell Sirius that he was sorry for saying such awful things…that he'd promise to try harder. Try harder to be good.
But Harry's eyes were puffy and sore, and he felt as if he could sleep for hours. His backside still ached and prickled a bit, but for some reason, he felt light and safe in his godfather's arms.
Besides, Harry knew that he didn't need to tell Sirius everything that he was thinking. Not right now, anyway. The warmth in his godfather's eyes spoke of more than understanding.
Sirius smoothed Harry's damp fringe away from his forehead and gently sat him down on the edge of the bed.
"I'll tell you what," Sirius began, crouching down to Harry's eye-level, "this afternoon, I'll contact Dumbledore and take a trip around the grounds to survey the area. If everything looks okay, you can go flying…"
Harry's face brightened.
"…starting Monday, after your Firebolt's been locked away for the weekend."
Harry's face fell slightly.
Sirius smiled but repressed a small chuckle.
"We'll come up with a couple of rules…together…about flying," Sirius continued. "How does that sound?"
"That sounds okay," Harry said through a stuffy nose, grinning softly.
And really...it did.